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Germination Induces Accumulation of Specific Proteins and Antifungal Activities in Corn Kernels

November 1997 , Volume 87 , Number  11
Pages  1,174 - 1,178

B. Z. Guo , Z.-Y. Chen , R. L. Brown , A. R. Lax , T. E. Cleveland , J. S. Russin , A. D. Mehta , C. P. Selitrennikoff , and N. W. Widstrom

First and ninth authors: Plant Resistance/Germplasm Enhancement Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tifton, GA 31793; second and sixth authors: Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge 70803; third, fourth, and fifth authors: Southern Regional Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, New Orleans, LA 70179; seventh author: Department of Botany, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695; eighth author: Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80262

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Accepted for publication 25 July 1997.

This study examined protein induction and accumulation during imbibition and germination of corn kernels, as well as antifungal activities of extracts from germinating kernels against Aspergillus flavus and Fusarium moniliforme. Genotypes studied included GT-MAS:gk and Mp420, which are resistant to A. flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation, and Pioneer 3154 and Deltapine G-4666, which are susceptible to A. flavus infection and aflatoxin accumulation. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis resolved five protein bands that were present at higher concentrations in germinated kernels than in nongerminated kernels. Western blot analyses revealed that one of these proteins reacted with the 22-kDa zeamatin antiserum, and a zeamatin-like protein accumulated to a higher concentration in germinated kernels. Two protein bands from dry kernels that reacted with ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP) antiserum were identified as the 32-kDa proRIP-like form and an 18-kDa peptide of the two peptides that form active RIP. However, in germinated kernels, two protein bands that reacted with RIP antiserum were identified as two RIP-like peptides with a molecular mass of ≈18 and 9 kDa. Purified RIP and zeamatin from corn inhibited growth of A. flavus. Bioassays of germinated kernel extracts from all four genotypes exhibited antifungal activity against A. flavus and F. moniliforme, with extracts from the susceptible genotypes showing greater inhibition zones. This study provides evidence of protein induction in corn kernels during imbibition or the early stages of germination, and the induced proteins may be related to our previous findings of germination-associated resistance in the corn kernel, especially in the susceptible kernels.

Additional keywords: biochemical mechanism, maize, mycotoxin, Zea mays.

The American Phytopathological Society, 1997